WhistlePig – 10 Year Old – Straight Rye Whiskey – Hi-Time Wines Store Selected Barrel – “Big Fat Juicy Pig” | 50% (100 Proof) $63.99 (Here)
Color/Appearance: Orangey amber sunset. Color for days, as all rye and bourbon seem easily capable of. Plus this product is ten years old which makes the color it does have seem a little light overall, but that is probably due to its 100% rye mashbill. Just a guess. Well let’s get the obvious out of the way first. This is a Canadian rye. There I said it. There was once a day when that was some sort of insult but those days are long gone. The label states that it was hand bottled in Vermont. There is no mention anywhere about Canada and it pristine water and fine tradition of excellent rye whiskey. I understand the need to obfuscate the truth here since WhistlePig’s long term goal is to distill their own Vermont rye made from Vermont grown rye grain. But in the mean time it might be nice to illuminate your customers with a small amount of the truth. I used to live in the fine state of Vermont and I know that products with that provenance have an implicit mark of quality. It is a general standard worth maintaining and until your rye is actually from Vermont it might be nice to admit honestly that it is not yet produced there. It is kind of a Vermont thing to do. Lets take a look at what we have before us. Well a ten year old, one hundred percent rye mashbill, one hundred proof rye whiskey. This new label also states that it was finished in bourbon barrels. Not sure how that affects things but it is a way for WhistlePig to put their own stamp on this whiskey. Can I also state that this is a great bottle. Wonderful shape and size. It is short enough to fit in my shorter cabinet but is in no way lacking in stature. Great label with sassy top hatted pig and embossed glass bottle. They obviously know something about design. Also this happens to be a store selected barrel from Hi-Time Wines called affectionately “Big Fat Juicy Pig”. I have not heard of many other store selection WhistlePig’s and since this is my first experience with this rye I cannot say how this would compare to a standard bottle. I would guess that it is slightly better.
Nose: Sweet mint tea bursting with fresh spearmint, a dry slice of rye bread, freshly cut dill, pralines just cooled, toffee pudding and effervescent cherry coke. So bleeping nice. I love the smell here. Rye spice cooked down into something cohesive and altogether pleasing. No lack of brash rye characteristics but it is rounded just enough with sweet delights to have broad appeal.
Palate: Cream soda, vanilla and a minty flavor reminiscent of the Japanese herb shiso. Ah these Canadian ryes are so effortless. Glides over your palate with much less spiciness than is normally associated with rye. They really seem to be in a category all their own, somehow separate from U.S. ryes. My guess is that once you add some barley to the mashbill this reacts with the rye, highlighting its unique spicy characteristics. But for these Canadian one hundred percent ryes there is no other grain to act as the foil to the rye and it comes off as a little smoother and somehow less rye like even though it has a higher rye content overall. Just a little theory of mine. A little raw heat lurking underneath but it just feels warming.
Finish: Light oak and toasty barrel char winding down with a nice spearmint syrup. A smidgen of black pepper and cinnamon red hots.
Overall: I really like this rye. I am not blown away by it but it is a super solid whiskey that any rye fan should certainly try. As you can see from my photo I have again flown through the bottle and that does mean something. I find it a very enjoyable sipper that goes down easy and has left a good impression on every pour throughout the entire life of the bottle. Not an easy feat. Solid distilling and barrel management on display here. I wish I still had some Lot 40 to compare it to. If I did I might have to flip my ratings for the two. Might just be that as I try more and more great whiskies the scores naturally go down a little. It really, really, really makes me wish I could taste some of their Boss Hog line of cask-strength extra aged ryes. If only the price wasn’t triple what this is going for.